Failure is a requirement

A couple of Agile2010 facts:

  1. 1400 attendees at Agile2010
  2. Made up of 38 nationalites (I’ve met USA, Canada, Argentina, India, Isreal, Denmark, Norway, UK)
  3. >260 talks, on about 18 stages

How many employees do you think Disney has? I’ll let you think about that…

Tonight was the finale party. A grand event inside EPCOT (what, exactly, is EPCOT?). After the 15 minute walk, down Disney Boardwalk, in the sweltering heat, we arrived at International Gateway. You entered into an air conditioned (wow, thank you), dark room. A dark room with food, and a few bars. Phew. I found a table with a few people on it, and just joined them. I’m sure they were glad really.

The food was great (it’s been great all week – we have been treated like Royalty and have eaten like Royalty too). The entertainment… well, that was great too. It started off with 2, shall we say ‘well carved’ men showing off their muscle and strength. I don’t really know how to describe them other than that. Then there were the Chinese acrobats. And then, to top it all off, Disney’s Celtic band – OFF KILTER. I have never – and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Scotland – seen a rock band with bagpipes. It worked well. It was entertaining – even if I didn’t get up and boogie, I was clapping my hands and tapping my feet.

Then there were the fireworks, or as Disney refer to them: Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

But the real point of this is to talk about the Agile2010 conference isn’t it?

So… I had a great start to the day with Clement “James” Goebel’s “How long would a Stand-Up meeting take with 85 people in it?”. James is passionate. He doesn’t mince his words. And he strongly believes in what he has to say. Needless to say his talk was engaging and really interesting, as well as instructive. He used a game too, and we were allowed (encouraged in fact) to take copies of his game away.

The next talk was by Jeff Gothelf, Director of User Experience at His talk was entitled “Beyond Staggered Sprints: Agile user experience design teams in the real world”, and was about his experiences of engaging user experience in the Agile framework at He’s currently at trial 4, and things are getting better with each trial. It seems that nobody’s perfect first time, and actually this is just what you’d expect. It’s ok to fail (I’ve heard that a few times over the past few days). This reminded me of another Jared Spool article which is definitely worth a read.

After lunch I attended a talk by Jeff Patton & David Hussman on “Products over Process: Successfully Blending Agile Methods and Design Thinking”. They spoke about product goals and personas among other things. A nice talk which tied a lot of things together.

The final session of the day was “Prototyping with Junk” by Nancy Frishberg. The easiest way to describe this session was that it did just what it said on the tin. There were 2 tables full of kindergarten-like materials, or junk. We were told to create a prototype to solve the problem of co-located teams, over at least 3 timezones with this junk, in 10 minutes. At first we were all a bit confused, but the 3 teams came up with entirely different ideas, all of which addressed the problem. We involved users in the testing, and were given the opportunity to refine our prototypes. I am not entirely convinced that this exercise will translate to web, but it was instructive none the less.

Tomorrow is the final day, or rather half day, of the conference. There are a few keynotes, and then it’s home.

And about Disney’s employees. Disney has 0 employees. There are, however, a number of ‘Cast members’. Everyone, from Disney character to street sweeper, is a cast member. They are given a role, and they have to play that role. Now, there’s a different way of thinking about staff.

P.S. Still no pancakes.

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